When I first heard the term “geographic” in AA, I realized these people truly had my number.  Growing up, I had moved with my family every two years because my father kept changing jobs.  He wasn’t an alcoholic, but he had difficulty getting along with his employers and co-workers.  So whenever things started to go poorly at his work, we would find a new city and start over.  As my dad pulled geographics rather than solve his career problems, I pulled geographics right along with him, conveniently packing up and escaping bullies at school and avoiding messes I had made with friendships where I had been disloyal.  Knowing we would not stay anywhere for very long, I began to live in a more and more reckless way, doing and saying things I would never have to worry about fixing.  In college I continued the geographics, transferring universities when I got in too much trouble at the first one due to excessive partying.  Like everywhere else I went, I ran into myself in the new location.  The next school proved an even more fertile ground for trouble making and I got my advanced degree in it.  Like my old man, I changed jobs like hair styles, each time marching off in a huff for not having been treated properly.  I stayed at one job for three years and thought I deserved the Congressional Medal of Honor for doing so.  My employers didn’t quite see it that way and could not wait to be rid of me.  Finally, after getting sober, I managed to stay in the same home for 17 years.  I kept one job for seven years and the next one for ten years.  I had a number of conflicts with people, but I used all my AA tools to sort them out.  There were people I avoided out of resentment, but eventually made amends and peace with them, and spent many years afterwards being on very good terms with them.  My upbringing taught me how to walk away.  But AA taught me how to stay.  It took a lot of unraveling for me to finally believe that you could make a mess of something without having to high tail it out of town on the next train.  You could make a mess and clean it up, right there in front of everybody, and it would be finished.  You could start over without packing a single bag.  When the going gets tough, the sober stay put.

Photo Courtesy of Rocky